Infidel Interview #90: Alan Larsen
First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?
Sure! My Name is Alan Larsen. I'm 34 years old. I'm a technologist, multi-instrumentalist, turntablist, producer, songwriter, activist, substance abuse & mental heath advocate; A man of many hats known for my direct approach to multi-genrenized material. I was born in Sacramento, CA. My family moved to Kansas City at a very young age, so I consider myself a Kansas City native. I'm an artist aiming to create music that would inspire others on a spiritual and atmospheric scale via my independent record label, Gordon Records.
How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?
To me, Kansas City holds one of the best underground music scenes in the nation.
There is so much talent here, it's rediculous. We are smack dab right in the middle of our country; Soaking influence and inspiration from both sides of the US.
I pull quite a bit of general inspiration from a few local artists. Generally those who have stayed grounded and stuck to their roots. That's very important, in my opinion.
Do you consider yourself to be part of a particular sound or scene? What is your thoughts on the nature of genres and styles, and do you have any particular ones which you find to your enjoyment more, listening and/or production-wise?
You see, this question actually gets thrown at me alot, considering my material. I don't sit down and commit to a genre before the writing process. I write music from my heart and inside of my head. Where it lands is where it lands. I've published material ranging from Classical Piano all the way down to Electronica & Turntablism.
As far as music to listen to and study; Everyone from Chopin, Beethoven to Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix.
The interview continues after this video, and all future ones.
Is electronic music where you started making music? Or did you have previous musical background or experience before hand? If so does/did your previous musical experience affect your electronic compositions? What led you to electronic music, particularly the more experimental kinds of it?
Although I'm a multi-instrumentalist, I've always kind of been more drawn towards the technical & electronic aspect of things. Especially since it's more of a wide platform to generate a constant flow of new ideas. Less limitations, more creative oportunity. Don't get me wrong; I love playing the piano, guitar & live drums. When I was younger, I became in love with the art of turntablism. So i took those skills on live instruments and applied them onto certain scratch components (turntable, mixer, samplers, etc.) So nowadays, I try to utilize every skill with every instrument in my compositions.
What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any bands that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?
Man, where do I start? First and foremost, my dad is and always will be my greatest inspiration, musically. Other influences are DJ Qbert, DJ Shadow, Nine Inch Nails, Deftones, Ministry, BT, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Crystal Method; The list is never ending.
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically?
That's a BIG YES and another BIG YES. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at an early age which led to alcoholism & addiction. I've got some serious sober time in now, and alot of it I accredit to music itself; As well as the creation of it. I had suppressed my musical inclination for so long. Now that I'm sober, everything is just kind of flying out, musically. Every track I create is a product of my new found happiness; Each track is like a soundtrack to my past, present & future life. Without it's outlet, I would definitely be a corpse already.
What would you say are your favorite themes and topics that inspire you to compose? What draws you to those themes?
Adversity, recovery, strength, courage, pain, depression, mental illness & homelessness. All of which are aspects I am very fimiliar with.
Would you consider yourself to be an overall political or spiritual individual? If so, if how what would you say are your strongest/most important views and/or causes?
Definitely more spiritual. I believe that the earth is one. We are all one big ball of energy. We think we are separated, but we are not. People born into this world are TAUGHT hatred and inequality. It didn't come pre-programmed.
When it comes to making music it can be difficult to balance atmosphere, song progression, musicality, and excitement. During the composition process do you approach things with a clear vision in mind, or do you prefer to let songs feel themselves out? Do you have any particular techniques or tricks you use to keep yourself creative and consistent?
As much as I'd enjoy it, my creative spark doesn't really work that way. It isn't based on hardships or happiness. It's based off of what I hear in my head at 3 o'clock in the morning on the way to the kitchen for no particular reason. However, during and after the recording process, it finds it's way into my life as a whole. Leading to a therapeutic experience amidst the playback in post-production.
Do you spend a lot of time crafting your own sounds? Or do you value song crafting and effects tweaking more? Or do you find it's a balance between the two? What's your relationships with presets? When you make music are you primarily a hardware or software oriented musician? Or do you do a fusion of both? Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music?
I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I really like to take my time with each element of a track. I practice a balance between real instruments and virtual ones. It's all based on how I feel the direction of a track is heading.
The piano is my hidden secret weapon. Every track I've released has been created from a piano riff that I started off with. Meaning that the melodies of every song I create could all be played on a piano.
Do you ever find it difficult to balance the creative and technical aspects of musical creation? How do you strike the balance for the need to craft and tweak your effects and sounds, in contrast to actually just getting the song itself created with structure and melody? What sort of element of creation do you prefer, the sonic shaping or the song creation?
It's important to allow yourself creative freedom. Meaning if you have an idea, whether it be song format related or effects and mixdown related, then try each idea out first. Don't rush yourself. This is the approach that I take when it comes to technicality. I hear exactly how I want something to sound sonically in my head before transforming it into reality. I won't give up until it's 100% accurate. Even if it takes days of sessions.
Do you find that when you are working on projects where you ended up learning new techniques during the process?
Oh, most definitley! That's why it's so important to stay on top of your game in this studio. Alot of great ideas have spawned from freestyle or mistakes made. As you grow with your instruments, you grow with your skillset. I'm still learning new things, day by day. It really is a never ending learning process.
For fans who have not seen you yet, when it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?
Both. All depending on the set list. A live show is the ultimate way of expressing yourself. I wouldn't want to sell myself or the audience short by limitations. I'm a big fan of a direct and intimate performance. Letting the music do it's job without hopping around on stage like a wounded animal.
What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?
I'd like to do film composition & scoring. As well as work towards a live performace with a full orchestra. The sky is the limit.
Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity? If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them?
I just signed a new hip-hop artist, Rezin 47, to my label Gordon Records. The kid is just sick with it. He's only 15 years old; But yet, he's already outdone himself from a musicians standpoint. We trade ideas and beats alot, as well.
I'd love to work with Trent Reznor, BT, Jimi Hendrix, Clint Mansell, Roger Waters, Dj Qbert, Run The Jewels, and many more.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
I've always believed in setting realistic goals, musically. Meeting these goals can still serve as a challenge. For me, the biggest challenge lies within the soul-searching part of it. Each project that start holds a new set of self-imposed challenges. It's how you grow as an artist. By pushing yourself to new heights and learning new ways to express yourself along the way.
When it comes to fan and critic feedback, how much do you take it to heart, and how much do you feel it evolves, pushes, or holds your sound in place? Do you feel that the personal response and interaction in the live environment, and the subsequent positive press you've regarding both your live and recorded music has consciously encouraged you to do things a certain way?
You have to have thick skin to succeed in this industry. There are going to be all sorts of different opinions and feedback from people. It's easy to get wrapped up in it if you're not careful. But after all, it's art. And art spawns reaction. The fact that people are even reacting at all is enough for me.
Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?
I'm huge on Recovery. I mentor other recoverying addicts/alcoholics. I do alot of live speaking for other recovery based organizations. I also love gaming. I'm playing NHL 17 while answering these questions, if that gives you any ldeas.
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
A big thank you to all of my supporters and followers! Make no mistake about; Without you, none of this would possible! Be kind to yourselves and each other!
Also, I would like to mention... some very dear extended family of mine here in KC recently suffered an EXTREME WATER DAMAGE CRISIS due to the flooding as a result of a massive storm. Literally everything gone. Their house, and their sentimental, pricelss belongings. It is with angst and concern that I'd humbly ask for a donation to any or all 3 of these fundraisers listed below: https://www.gofundme.com/help-my-family-after-flood https://www.gofundme.com/family-lost-all-in-flood https://www.facebook.com/donate/1945090879149440/
Follow Alan Larsen on his official Facebook to keep up to date with all his activities:
Download his music on his official Bandcamp:
Stream his music on Spotify and Google Play:
Purchase Merchandise to support the artist and Gordon Records at their official merch store:
You can find Gordon Record's YouTube that contains video content for Alan's projects:
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